Spectrum: Interactive Media & Online Developer News

16 December 1997

Reported, written and edited by David Duberman for editorial/ subscription inquiries, send mailto:duberman@dnai.com


Editor's note: There were so many juicy stories in the past week that we created this special supplementary edition. Also, next Monday's edition (December 22) will be the last until January 5, so if you've got an item to submit that needs to get out before the holidays, please get it to us by this Friday (December 19).

Today's Headlines (details below)


--Live Picture Announces Reality Studio for Immersive Sites
--Symantec Releases Version 2.1 of Visual Cafe Pro
--iCat Announces Entry-level E-Commerce Product
--Microsoft Adopts HTML for Office File Format


--COPS connects Windows 95 to AppleShare IP via the Internet
--Associative Computing Releases Intelligent Search Tools


--ATG Announces Dynamo Ad Station 3.0
--Eastgate Updates Web Squirrel
--Sitara Software Aims to Speed Web
--blitcom Debuts VRML Push Programming
--Delta 3D Banner Ad Developed with V-Realm Builder


--MetaCreations Ships Bryce 3D with Animation, Atmospheric Effects


--VRML Consortium, 3D Design Mag Organize VRML Contest
--Report Points Way to Non-Spam Email Advertising


--ORIGIN Ships Wing Commander: Prophecy
--TEN Viewer Turns Gaming into Spectator Sport
--Activision Announces Dark Reign Mission, Map Building Contest
--PlayStation Sells Over Million Units in November


--Browning Joins CDT as Communications Director
--ION Storm's Wilson Departs for Publishing Startup


--About Spectrum



Live Picture Announces Reality Studio for Immersive Sites

Live Picture Corp., a specialist in Internet imaging, announced Live Picture Reality Studio for Windows 95/NT 4.0, a tool set for creating immersive Web sites. Featuring a suite of Live Picture products and technologies, Reality Studio is designed to let Web designers create sites where visitors can examine products in greater detail by zooming in to evaluate the quality of apparel, walking from room to room of a home, or picking up and rotating appliances, cameras, consumables, or other items.

Components include:

o Live Picture PhotoVista - Live Picture image stitching software that automatically pieces together and aligns a series of photos to create a seamless, 360-degree panoramic image.

o Live Picture Object Modeler - A new tool for creating 3D image objects such as consumer electronic products, toys, sports equipment, and other items. Using a mouse, Web consumers can interact with these objects and examine them from different angles.

o Live Picture Image Server - Delivers high-resolution FlashPix images and objects for zooming in on fine details. FlashPix was invented by Live Picture in collaboration with Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and Microsoft.

o Live Picture Viewer - Fast-downloading Java and plug-in clients for viewing Reality Studio content.

A beta version can be downloaded beginning December 19 from http://www.livepicture.com.



Symantec Releases Version 2.1 of Visual Cafe Pro

Symantec Corporation announced the availability of Visual Cafe for Java 2.1 Professional Development Edition, an open standard, multi-platform, Rapid Application Development (RAD) Java development tool for writing, debugging and deploying Java applets and applications for the Internet and corporate intranet.

New features include:

· Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer in-context debugging

· support for JDK 1.1.4. The source editor, interaction wizard, form editor, parser, debugger, and compiler all work with JDK 1.1.4, and developers can code using 1.1.4 APIs

· debugging support for virtual machines

· property-based customizers. Enables developers to edit the properties of composite JavaBeans not accessible or available through the JavaBeans Property List;

· open APIs for third parties.

· just-in-time (JIT) compiler 3.0, which Symantec claims is the fastest shipping JIT compiler

For more information, call 800-453-1059, or visit http://cafe.symantec.com.



iCat Announces Entry-level E-Commerce Product

iCat Corporation, developer of the iCat Electronic Commerce Suite, offered sneak previews of its entry-level Internet storefront solution at Internet World, held last week in New York City. This new product, code-named "iCat Lemonade Stand," reportedly provides businesspersons with the ability to create an Internet storefront in minutes, with no prior training or technical expertise. Features include search and index, sale pricing, cross-selling, and tax and shipping calculation.

iCat Lemonade Stand will be released in Q1 1998. There will be no initial setup fee for opening a store, and users may build and host a store on a trial basis for up to 30 days without charge. Monthly subscription-based hosting fees will be set by the hosting provider, but are expected to start at less than $100 per month.

For more information, visit http://www.icat.com.



Microsoft Adopts HTML for Office File Format

Microsoft Corp. announced Monday its plans to use HTML as the companion file format to its own proprietary format in the next version of Microsoft Office. Office documents stored in HTML will enable "round-tripping" by implementing Extensible Markup Language (XML) technology to preserve Office-specific formatting in a document. This means that a customer can save an Office document in HTML and open it back up in Office without losing any important Office data such as PivotTable dynamic views or complex charts.

Web Site: http://www.microsoft.com




COPS connects Windows 95 to AppleShare IP via the Internet

COPS Inc. (http://www.copstalk.com) has released version 2.5 of the company's AppleTalk network client for Windows 95. With the use of COPSTalk 2.5 and Apple Computer's AppleShare IP 5 server or Open Door Network's Shareway IP gateway, PCs running Windows 95 on the Internet or a LAN can share files with Macintosh servers and workstations. COPSTalk 2.5 is the only Windows AppleTalk client that supports AppleShare IP. A 10-day version is available from http://www.copstalk.com.

COPSTalk 2.5 adds support for the AFP-over-IP features of Apple's AppleShare IP 5 server and third party AFP-over-IP products such as Open Door Network's ShareWay IP. When you connect to an AppleShare IP 5 server on your local network, COPSTalk will automatically switch to the higher-performance TCP/IP protocol without requiring user interaction.

Remote AFP-over-IP servers that you specify will show up in the Windows 95 Network Neighborhood for convenient access over the Internet.

COPSTalk 2.5 supplies a simple AppleShare IP Host Editor to allow the user to specify Internet AppleShare IP connections. To establish a new AppleShare IP connection, the user simply enters the URL or the IP address of the remote server or workstation and presses the Add button. In response, the new AppleShare IP host is added to the Windows 95 Network Neighborhood to be conveniently accessed just like any other file server.

COPSTalk can be configured to use TCP/IP over a dial-up adapter, allowing mobile Windows 95 users to access AppleShare IP servers from any location that provides Internet access.



Associative Computing Releases Intelligent Search Tools

Associative Computing, Inc. ("ACI"), a developer of artificial intelligence technology, announces the release of WordHound 1.0, a fuzzy spell checker optimized for the demands of high-speed query processing, and QueryHound 1.0, a query expansion tool that provides synonyms and inflections for keyword searches.

WordHound is a fuzzy spell checker with customizable lexicons, adjustable search speeds, and intelligent word analysis. Two notable features are its context sensitivity, which adjusts word scores relative to the search domain, and its merge-and-split functionality, which determines when input words have been incorrectly combined or separated.

WordHound can correct "so ftware" to "software" and "Webbrowser" to "Web browser." Using its context sensitivity feature, it can correct the query "lak" to "lake" in a recreation database, to "law" in a government database, and to "lab" in a science database.

QueryHound is a keyword expansion tool that uses natural language processing to analyze input text and then score and rank the best equivalent terms, such as synonyms and inflections of the original words. A search engine can use these equivalents to improve the results of user queries.

QueryHound's "relevancy" feature allows it to analyze a phrase such as "presidents of various large corporations" and rank the words according to their relative importance in the phrase. A search engine can improve its search based on the knowledge that the words "presidents" and "corporations" are more important than "large," which in turn is more important than "various" and "of."

Both WordHound and QueryHound are provided with a Software Developer Kit (SDK) and run on the Win32 and UNIX BSD platforms. The SDKs include large English lexicons as well as a variety of utilities for creating customized lexicons and frequency files, and can be integrated into existing Internet, intranets and client/server based products and services.

For additional information, visit http://www.mindmaker.com.




ATG Announces Dynamo Ad Station 3.0

Just shipping from Art Technology Group (ATG) is Dynamo Ad Station 3.0, an "ad management solution for facilitating online commerce relationships through customized ad delivery." New enhancements are designed for behavior-tracking, profiling and enhanced media ad delivery on large-scale sites and across distributed ad networks.

Based in Boston, ATG can be reached by mailto:info@atg.com or at 617.859.1212.



Eastgate Updates Web Squirrel

Eastgate Systems, Inc. announces a new update to Web Squirrel, its $49.95 Macintosh program that helps people keep track of hundreds or thousands of URLs.

Release 1.5.7 of Web Squirrel adds support for DragThing, James Thomson's shareware utility. DragThing can serve as an in-box for Web Squirrel; users can drag URLs from email, Web pages, or any other source into DragThing's dock. Later, users drag the items from DragThing into their Web Squirrel documents; Web Squirrel agents and neighborhoods automatically index each new item as it is added.

A demonstration version and detailed information are available at http://www.eastgate.com/squirrel/



Sitara Software Aims to Speed Web

Sitara Networks, Inc. last week unveiled SpeedServer and SpeedSeeker, dual components of a client-server software solution designed to improve reliability of Web page delivery, even under the congested network conditions, and to speed Web page delivery by an average of three times.

Following are specific strategies Sitara claims will improve the speed and reliability of today's Internet:

· Streamlined Handshaking--streamlines the first exchange of data packets between server and client by including the file request with the initial connection request.

· Efficient Loss Recovery--Today, if one data packet in a series of many fails to arrive in the required time, then the entire set of packets is resent. In contrast, Sitara re-sends only the lost data packet, speeding page delivery, and reducing overall network congestion.

· Data Consolidation--Sitara consolidates data transfers into a single, persistent connection--even when page elements are stored on separate servers--versus today's Internet, which opens and closes a separate connection for each object on a page.

· Control of Network Congestion and Data Flow - dynamically adjusts data rate to the optimum rate at which the client can accept it.

For more information, visit http://www.sitara.net



blitcom Debuts VRML Push Programming

blitcom, Llc, a 3D character-based online entertainment company, announced the launch of the first VRML push programming network, The Blitcom Channel (http://www.blitcom.net). blitcom will kick off "100 Worlds in 100 Days," to users on a free subscription basis. Blitcom Network subscribers receive a new VRML world, created by developers who have submitted to Cosmo Software's http://vrml.sgi.com in the categories of science, entertainment and International worlds. The initial feed will run from December 10, the opening of Fall Internet World, through March 10, the opening of Spring Internet World.



Delta 3D Banner Ad Developed with V-Realm Builder

If you do 3D and are looking for new markets, check this out: Ligos Technology, in conjunction with Intel Corp. and Modem Media, presented last week an interactive 3D Internet banner ad from Delta Air Lines. The ad, which lets Internet users obtain information on travel to cities throughout the world, was created using Ligos' V-Realm Builder, a VRML authoring package.

"Delta's adoption of VRML-based advertising signals a new movement by corporate advertisers to more interactive, visually-stimulating content," said Peter Forman, chief executive officer of Ligos. "It gives advertisers creative power that traditional HTML GIF89, and even Java, just can't provide."

The ad utilizes Ligos' VRML Detector, a code that allows the site to detect which version of browser is being used and then switch to non-VRML content for those using older Web browsers.

More information can be found at http://www.ligos.com.




MetaCreations Ships Bryce 3D with Animation, Atmospheric Effects

Hot on the heels of Bryce 2, MetaCreations Corporation is shipping Bryce 3D on hybrid CD-ROM for Windows 95/NT and Power Macintosh. The latest version of the $299 landscape generator provides the ability to add animation and atmospheric effects to a scene. 3D motion graphics can be saved as AVI or QuickTime movies.

New animation controls allow any property such as atmosphere, objects, imported 3D models or terrains to be animated. Imported 3D models and objects can be laid down on a geometric 'ribbon-like' path with no time value associated to it. The new animation and effects features are made possible in Bryce 3D by the hierarchical grouping of objects and events via keyframing.

Camera movement modes include rotation, curves, dips and fly-over motion commands. The new keyframe animator offers velocity control over each object's timeline, setting the keyframes to fit each adjustment. Motion paths can be edited and saved as presets and imported or exported.

The Materials and Textures palette will include a vastly expanded and updated library including:

· sky and fog settings with extended choices

· hyper textures that add volumetric properties producing penetrable atmospheres that objects, cameras or lights can move through

· moons with actual lunar map textures; phases of the moon from waning to waxing and optical effects for lunar and solar eclipses

· customized random star fields for unlimited choices of star patterns

· rainbows that simulate actual water vapor refraction

· infinite slab in the primitives palette creates an infinite plane, scaleable in depth, width and breadth allowing any volumetric property or texture to be applied

Web server: http://www.metacreations.com.





VRML Consortium, 3D Design Mag Organize VRML Contest

The VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) Consortium is sponsoring a VRML contest in collaboration with 3D Design Magazine. The contest will encourage and showcase the latest Web content using VRML to bring interactive 3D graphics to the Web.

The contest will be divided into five major categories:

1) Best Business VRML content

2) Most Artistic VRML content

3) Most Innovative VRML content

4) Best Architecture

5) Best Visualization

3D Design will provide judges for the contest and winners will be announced at the VRML 98 conference in Monterey, CA (February 16-19, 1998).

Submission forms are available on 3D Design Web page at

< http://www.3d-design.com/vrmlcontest.html > and The VRML Consortium Web page at < http://www.vrml.org >: The deadline is January 16, 1998.



Report Points Way to Non-Spam Email Advertising

ideaMarket, an idealab! company, has just released a new electronic report, "Direct E-Mail Promotion--Without Raising Hackles," written by Internet marketing consultant Al Bredenberg.

The $4.95, 4,000-word report is said to reveal methods for advertising by electronic mail without resorting to "spamming," or sending out mass unsolicited bulk email. Bredenberg shows how a business can get results promoting its products or services with in-house email lists, "rented" opt-in lists, email newsletters and other vehicles. He also outlines how to create effective email advertising messages.

"Direct E-Mail Promotion--Without Raising Hackles" is available in electronic form from ideaMarket ( http://www.ideamarket.com ).




ORIGIN Ships Wing Commander: Prophecy

ORIGIN Systems, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts, is shipping Wing Commander: Prophecy, the latest chapter in the popular space combat franchise. The new graphics engine, which supports 3Dfx graphics accelerator cards and Direct 3D, adds real-time, multi-colored lighting (ambient, directional, point-source and lens flare effects), vapor trails and particle effects.

There are more than 50 missions in Wing Commander: Prophecy. Players will find seven new Confederation ships, each with individual sets of weapon loadouts and maneuverability features. Many of the new ships have articulated engine pod sections allowing for quicker horizontal and vertical movements. Also, there are more than 10 new alien ships to fly against, each one with new tactics and maneuvers.

An interactive demo is available at http://www.wingcommanderprophecy.com



TEN Viewer Turns Gaming into Spectator Sport

Online gaming service Total Entertainment Network (TEN) announced the availability of MadCAM, a viewing technology for observing online gaming action. Created for TEN by Thomas Erickson, MadCAM ("Mutmut's Amazing Deathmatch CAMera") will initially be applied to id Software's Quake on the TEN service. When accessed in Quake, the MadCAM feature supports the viewing of a multiplayer game by as many as 14 spectators.

Observers can choose from a range of pre-set camera angles, or use a "dynamic" camera mode to fly through the game, hovering in mid-air or following the action from an infinite number of viewpoints. TEN plans to incorporate the proprietary MadCAM technology in other entertainment titles in the future.



Activision Announces Dark Reign Mission, Map Building Contest

Activision, Inc. is launching the Dark Reign Mission and Map Building Contest. Gamers can put their mission and map building skills to the test and compete for $3,000 in cash prizes. The contest runs through January 15, 1998.

Using Dark Reign's construction kit, gamers will compete for a $2,000 first prize which will be awarded for the best "single-player mission" and a $1,000 first prize for best "multi-player map." The winning mission and map will also be included on Activision's upcoming add-on pack, Dark Reign Expansion.

Contest information and rules are available at http://www.activision.com/games/strategy/darkreign/index.shtml





PlayStation Sells Over Million Units in November

A few months back, there was talk of Sony Computer Entertainment America dropping the price of the PlayStation to $100 for this holiday season.

Doesn't seem likely now, though. Sony sold 1.01 million PlayStation units in North America in the 28 days from Nov. 2 through Nov. 29. Typically, the game console is not discounted from its $149 list price.

Sales of game titles also soared during that period, with more than 5.14 million first- and third-party games sold--providing a tie ratio of more than five games sold for every PlayStation game console sold. The PlayStation game console was launched in North America on Sept. 9, 1995 and by end of November 1997 Sony Computer Entertainment America had sold approximately 6.38 million PlayStation game consoles.

The PlayStation brand recently released a series of new titles for the holiday season, including Final Fantasy VII, NFL GameDay '98, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, Bushido Blade, Parappa The Rapper and Intelligent Qube.

Visit Sony on the Web at http://www.playstation.com




Browning Joins CDT as Communications Director

Online civil liberties group The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) announced that Graeme Browning, a former newspaper and magazine reporter, as well as author of a recent book on using the Internet to transform politics, has become the group's new Communications Director. Browning replaces Jonah Seiger, who is leaving to form a Washington-based Internet campaign consulting company with Shabbir J. Safdar, former director of the Voters Telecommunications Watch, a public interest group in New York City.



ION Storm's Wilson Departs for Publishing Startup

ION Storm CEO Mike Wilson will be leaving the company to pursue a new interactive game publishing venture. John Romero will assume the title of CEO. The new game publishing company, named g.o.d. (Gathering of Developers), is an alliance of developers committed to the formation of a cooperative game publishing company where the partners share in the development process and the profit.

At 27, Wilson is an established veteran in the gaming industry. As CEO of ION Storm, Mike worked with Romero and the other founders to promote their vision of a first-class computer game design company that creates content-rich full-blown productions. Previously, Mike was director of marketing and distribution at id Software, developers of the hit computer games DOOM and QUAKE.

"Look out for this guy," said Todd Porter, president and co-founder of ION Storm. "I've never met anyone who knew what he wanted to do more than Mike Wilson. Gathering of Developers is a fantastic vision and could really rattle some cages in our industry as far as the standard for developer-publisher relationships."

Visit ION Storm at http://www.ionstorm.com




About Spectrum

Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.

Send your interactive multimedia business, product, people, event, or technology news to: duberman@dnai.com. We prefer to receive news by email but if you must, telephone breaking news to 510-549-2894. Send review product and press kits by mail to David Duberman, 1609 Addison St. #6, Berkeley, CA 94703.

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(c)Copyright 1997 Motion Blur Media. All rights reserved. No reproduction in any for-profit or revenue-generating venue in any form without written permission from the publisher.